Should a Med Student be Expelled for Sharing a Belief in the Sanctity of Life?

In July 2020, the University of Manitoba expelled med student Rafael Zaki on the basis of Non-Academic Misconduct in the form of unprofessional conduct.

This all started when Mr. Zaki made Facebook posts about the right to bear arms and the right to life. Mr. Zaki’s posts prompted 18 anonymous complaints in the College of Medicine and an investigation by the Deans of the College. Assistant Dean Dr. Ripstein headed up the investigation, acting as prosecutor, decision maker and witness. He held a harrowing seven interviews with Mr. Zaki, where he, without evidence, accused Mr. Zaki of supporting rape at gunpoint, shooting up abortion clinics, and being transphobic, homophobic and racist. Mr. Zaki never did see the full complaints against him, even though this was required under University policy.

In August, Mr. Zaki filed a Notice of Application for judicial review at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, as well as a motion for an injunction which asked the Court to allow Mr. Zaki to continue to attend school until the determination of his judicial review application. The Court refused to grant the injunction to Mr. Zaki, a ruling Mr. Zaki is appealing in the Court of Appeal of Manitoba.

On April 7, 2021, Carol Crosson of the Advocate appeared in the Court of Queen's Bench for Mr. Zaki to argue against his expulsion from the U of M. We now await a decision.

Mr. Zaki is a Coptic Christian. His parents are Coptics who immigrated to Canada with the hope of finding freedom from the persecution they suffered on account of their religious beliefs. Mr. Zaki’s view on life is at the core of his beliefs, he can no more recant this belief than to deny his very soul.

Mr. Zaki’s case is a sad commentary on a university so intolerant of certain views that it turns on its head the idea of the institution being a bastion of free speech. Indeed, any student who holds unpopular views can expect that the inquisition will begin, and that without mercy or fairness.

Read the final ruling.

Update: Zaki sent back to appear before university committee again

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